Saturday, March 25, 2006 

Maple Sugaring in Kennebunkport?

Today, the guests of the Maine Stay Inn and the other Historic Inns of Kennebunkport were treated to an informative and entertaining tour of the maple sugaring process.

The event was a collabrative effort of the Giles Family Farm and the Brothers of Christian Education. The maple orchard is located on what was Maine's first Shaker settlement, settled in 1791, in Alfred, Maine. In 1931, the property was purchased from the Shakers by the Brothers of Notre Dame.

While this order of Brothers were involved in many aspects of education throughout the years, today these Brothers are officially retired. They lease portions of their property to the Giles Family Farm to continue much of the work that allowed the Brothers to remain self-sufficient for so many years.

Our informative tour began with a brief history lesson of the property and the maple sugaring process, including its origins back to the native americans. Frank, from the Giles Farm, told us about the differences between the various maples, the sugar maple being the best. We learned about the changes in the sap throughout the sap season which ideally lasts about 30 days.

We continued with a trip down to the sugar shack where the process of boiling-off the water from the sap ultimately results in that "liquid gold" in which we love to drench our pancakes and waffles.

We were then escorted to the Brothers' cafeteria where we enjoyed some delicious, homemade soup and sandwiches. All this was topped off by Maple Apple Pandowdy and vanilla ice cream (yummy).

What a great way to spend a beautiful Spring Saturday afternoon.


Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Innkeeping 101

As we approach our four year anniversary of innkeeping here at the Maine Stay Inn, we decided to write a series of articles about the different aspects of innkeeping. By far the question asked of us by our guests most often is, "how do you like innkeeping?" Our answer varies slightly but is basically the same, "we have met so many wonderful guests from all over the world that it would be hard to consider doing anything else."

The follow-up question..."but isn't it an awful lot of work?" Our answer, "it is alot of work but we have a fantastic staff and the type of work involved is enjoyable."

When we first contemplated the idea of purchasing a bed and breakfast inn, we made the decision to attend a three-day seminar for first time innkeepers. Sure, we had stayed at several inns over the course of our travels but, we believed it would be money well spent to learn about the aspects of innkeeping not seen by the guest. In hindsight, we had already considered and become comfortable with about 80% of the material covered in the seminar. The remaining 20% of the material, we found to be well worth the cost and effort of attending the seminar.

The title of this article, Innkeeping 101, was chosen for two reasons; first, the obvious implication that the article would attempt to educate (similar to a course title, ie. calculus 101) and second, I will, on occasion write an article about a different aspect of innkeeping and, in doing so, will number each in ascending order (next, Innkeeping 102).

Some of the subjects that I expect to discuss will include:
  • Considering a change in careers? Is innkeeping an option?
  • Should you attend a seminar? How to choose a good one.
  • What kind of inn is right for you?
  • The purchase. Do the numbers make sense?
  • Operating the inn.
  • Marketing the inn.

Within each of these general categories are many subcategories. For example, operating the inn involves so very many different aspects, food service, housekeeping, maintenance, customer service, planning, hiring, employee management, and on and on.

We don't pretend to be experts, but we can give you our perspective. You can then choose to do with this information what you will.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to post them, we will do our best to give a thoughtful response. If we don't have a response for you, we will probably ask another, more experienced innkeeper. Innkeepers here in Kennebunkport are all very willing to share knowledge. The feeling is that, it is in our collective best interests if we all prosper.

Kennebunkport is a bed and breakfast community and the competition raises the standards of all the properties. As those higher standards become expected by our guests, it becomes incumbent upon us to raise them even higher.

Well, that's it for Innkeeping 101. In summary, what we hope you have learned here is simply, there will be more to follow.


Friday, March 17, 2006 

Welcoming Guests for 60 years!

The Maine Stay Inn, Kennebunkport, Maine is celebrating its 60th year of welcoming guests.

First opened in 1946 as The Maine Stay Guest House by Grace and John Eldridge, this former sea captain's home is now one of the oldest and most distinguished inns along the coast of Southern Maine.

Just about 18 months ago, while Janice was welcoming two new guests to the inn, she asked if she could give them a map of Kennebunkport, the surrounding area and its interesting sights. The gentleman replied that he had grown up "here." Well, after a couple of comments back and forth, Janice soon came to realize that "here" meant at the Maine Stay Inn. His mom, Grace opened the guest house while his dad sold insurance from one of its front parlors. That front parlor is now a part of one of our most luxurious suites, The Deluxe Fireplace Suite.

After raising their family in this grand home, Grace and John Eldridge decided to open their doors and welcome tourists to the Maine Stay Guest House in 1946. They later chose to expand the business and built a small cottage in which to live so they could offer more rooms in the main building to guests. They continued to expand and built a total of four more buildings, all of which were also built in a New England cottage style. Each of those four additional buildings now comprise two Cottage Suites. Some of these suites have fireplaces and double whirlpool tubs, while others are decorated in an English Country style and have full kitchens. The cottage that Grace and John originally built for themselves now has three cottage suites, each with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.

Today the Maine Stay Inn has a total of 17 guest rooms and suites, is a proud member of the Select Registry and is on the National Register of Historic Places .

In addition to the 60th anniversary as an inn, this April Janice and I (George) are celebrating our forth year as the innkeepers. We have met an extraordinary number of wonderful friends in these four years and are looking forward to many more.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006 

Flowers Galore in Kennebunkport

This weekend at Kennebunkport's Maine Stay Inn, we held a celebration of the coming of Spring. The inn, including each of the guest rooms, was adorned with flowers and flower arrangements.

Guests spending the weekend at the inn were given complimentary tickets to the Portland Flower Show, Northern New England's largest flower show.

Today, Saturday, March 11, 2006 could not have been a better day to "jump start" the spirit of Spring in all of us. Temperatures peaked in the high 50's and the sky was clear. If one was not already afflicted, there was no escaping today's heavy dose of Spring Fever.

This evening some of our guests gathered for a wine and cheese reception. These get togethers are one of the best reasons to be an innkeeper. Oh yes, everyone knows there is alot of work as an innkeeper, but the people you meet make it a wonderful and rewarding endeavor.

What's next? Well, next weekend promises to be one of the best. We are having a brew pub tour and dinner. In conjunction with Federal Jack's Restaurant and Brewpub, our guests will have a custom tour of their brewing operations followed by a beer tasting dinner. Each course will be paired with a brew that compliments the dish. A little out of the ordinary, but it should be lots of fun.

One final item, The Maine Stay Inn's Cottage Suite #7 will be back in service after a couple of weeks of redecorating. Not just with new wallpaper and paint, but also a new flat panel LCD television with DVD and new fireplace mantel. New chairs and furniture are just a couple of weeks away, but the room will be ready to go by next weekend.

Happy Spring (a little early) to all. Summer can't be too far away.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Winter in Kennebunkport

The winter season is a special time in Kennebunkport. At the Maine Stay Inn we have cozy rooms with fireplaces and double whirlpool tubs. Many of the best Kennebunkport restaurants stay open during this quiet and romantic time of year.

Often, our winter guests will comment how much they love Kennebunkport at this time of year and it must be wall-to-wall people in the summer. Similarly, many summer guests will comment that they love the activity of Kennebunkport in the summer but, what do people do in the winter?

Well, each of Kennebunkport's four seasons offer different experiences.

Springtime in Kennebunkport offers the re-birth of some of the most wonderful gardens to be found. In Kennebunkport, gardening is said to be a "competitive sport." Abbott Graves (1859-1936) was an American impressionist artist that immortalized many of the local gardens and doorways of the majestic homes of Kennebunkport.

Summer in Kennebunkport is alive with activity. From the horse-drawn carriage clippity-clopping past the Maine Stay to President George W. Bush's entourage of 20 or so vehicles speeding by on his way to his family compund, there is something for everyone. The beaches are a favorite of almost everyone, whether for swimming (brrrr), sunning or walking. The rocky coast offers views like no other. Locals complain about the traffic but the truth is, most of them were tourists who fell in love with Kennebunkport before they moved here.

The Fall in Kennebunkport is unbelievable. The colors are breathtaking. From the yellows to oranges to the many shades of red they are so amazing that they draw visitors from all over the world. It is a rare morning in the fall when we don't have guests from one, two or even three countries other than the US.

That brings us back to winter. We think of the start of the winter season with our Christmas Prelude celebration (the first two weekends of December, technically not yet winter). These weekends are two of the busiest of the entire year. Most guests make their reservations a year in advance. It is a magical time in our quaint village. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides are all popular when followed by a piping hot cup of chocolate.

In Kennebunkport, February is for Lovers and visitors arrive for an overdose of romance, chocolate or often for both. At the Maine Stay Inn we have a chocolate tasting weekend and we have a wine tasting weekend. Both events are popular and offer a little information and plenty of fun.

March and April (again, technically not all winter) are full of weekend activities sponsored by the Historic Inns of Kennebunkport. Some of the highlights include the brew pub weekend, March 18, and the Maple Sugaring weekend, March 25.

Each season is very different from the others. Each with its own wonderful experiences. Don't let preconceived ideas allow you to miss out on some wonderful memories.


Saturday, March 04, 2006 

Maine Stay Inn Guests Tour Kennebunkport's Historic Nott House

During the evening of Saturday, March 4, 2006, guests of the Maine Stay Inn attended a private reception and house tour of the historic Nott House in Kennebunkport's Historic District. While enjoying hors d'oeuvres, punch and celestial sounds from a local harpist, attendees had the opportunity to learn from docents the history of this magnificent home and how it came to be part of Kennebunkport's Historical Society.

The Nott House represents life as it existed in the mid 1800's when Kennebunkport's shipbuilding industry thrived and made this quaint town one of the wealthiest in New England. The carpets, furnishings, wallpaper, and artifacts are original to the house. They are a reflection of four generations of the Perkins and Nott families who occupied the home from the late 1700's through to the mid-1900's.

The function was sponsored by The Historic Inns of Kennbunkport. Each of the innkeepers brought their favorite hors d'oeuvres. All guests of the inns received a package with the recipes of all of the hors d'oeuvres.

At the end of the evening a raffle was held and a Maine Stay Inn gift certificate awarded to one of the lucky couples who attended.

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